Beauty born of Trouble…

imageWomen from the Deep Coastal South love our Pearls. The Mother of Pearls is the Oyster, one of our most highly prized culinary gifts from the sea. Especially in November and December when the waters are cold enough- out of our beloved bays and inlets fishermen retrieve the finest oysters in the world from their peaceful beds beneath the waters. Stormy rough waves or an out-of-the-blue rush of water- a grain of sand enters the rare oyster. The sharp edges bother and irritate the delicate flesh of the oyster. All oysters live in a close knit community called an Oyster Bed. image

A Pearl Oyster lives in secret pain- silent agony. The oyster has no means to rid itself of this tiny bit of trouble. Unnoticed by the others in the watery bed-the oyster is experiencing inner turmoil and pain from just a tiny errant grain of sand. It hurts the oyster, it bothers the bivalve- after all the oyster was just sitting there trying to survive when the grain of sand came out of nowhere. Troubles are often like that.  To survive, the pearl oyster must  decide-

  •  to accept the pain,
  • find a way to live with the pain,
  • cover the grain of sand,
  • round off the rough edges.

Oysters have a way to heal themselves of troubles which will not go away. Within the oyster’s delicate system there is a God given remedy for pain and heartache. The lowly oyster patiently secretes a substance which surrounds an aggravating bit of trouble. There are times in our lives when we endure trouble born out of a small things- secret living griefs that-

  •  must be endured,
  • knows no relief,
  • interrupts our sleep
  • and threatens our peace.

We do have choices- we can:

  • ignore the pain
  • hope it will go away-
  • minimize the trouble –
  • ‘Oh it’s just a small thing, I’ll be alright’-
  • wait in excruciating silence,
  • wonder how to endure a painful uncertain future. image

As the tiny grain of sand digs deeper, a constant nagging source of pain, the oyster may clamp shut hoping to avoid another grain of sand that could cause more pain , more trouble. When the oyster accepts the grain of sand– the oyster’s system takes over the healing process. Beauty will be born out of trouble. It takes a bit of effort on the part of the oyster- to survive, patience endurance is required. Bit by bit a milky substance is secreted-  the grain of sand becomes a part of the oyster. Hidden in the injured flesh of a lowly rustic living creature, a Pearl is being formed. With longsuffering patience, and in cooperation with the Merciful Provision of God- small irritations and troubles have the potential to be transformed into valuable luminous loveliness-Pearls. image

Born of Trouble, lonesome pain and solitary determination- the Oyster’s life work becomes  a thing of infinite beauty and value. So may our irritations and pain become tokens of beauty which glorify God. This morning our prayer is that the Lord will string together our heartaches and irritations and show us the gleaming luminosity of our lives- Beauty Born out of Trouble. On this, the Merciful Day of our Lord, may we ponder the dilemma of the Pearl Oyster- living proof that a thing of Beauty can be born out of Trouble.

Love y’all, Camellia

All photographs are mine

Native Neutrals…


Hotel St. Francis in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Interiors with neutral color schemes are my favorite. They are peaceful, calm and soothing. Perhaps the first lengthy discussion I remember having about interior design was at Bon Secour Bay outside of a restaurant named Meme’s. The driveway into this delicious dive was of whole and crushed oyster shells. I think I might have been 14 years old. My best friend and I got into a hilarious conversation of how we could use oyster shells as décor in the home. We  thought perhaps as salt dishes, beside a dinner plate to hold a few pats of butter, lemon wedges or even as powder room soap dishes; maybe a container by the kitchen sink to hold our rings. Of course it was all silly- but oysters hold a sweet spot in our hearts- where else do you think our love for pearls comes from? And just look at the beauty of the neutral colors found in oysters!

I am a native of Alabama, these are the neutral colors that I love.  A whole color scheme can be found in an humble oyster. Our families had met at Meme’s to watch the shrimp and oyster boats come in at sunset and to partake of some of the most memorable seafood I ever recall. And believe me, if you live in the Deep South- with all of its bayous and rivers, bays, streams and the magnificent Gulf of Mexico-you know your seafood! Alabama Seafood is some of the world’s finest!

Meme’s started out as an oyster bar. Oysters have romantic notions ascribed to them- probably because Casanova was said to have eaten dozens and dozens of the oysters daily. I knew a big ol’ logger named Bud– from South Alabama who had huge burlap bags of oysters brought up to his camp every Friday to feed his men- Bud said ‘Oysters keep their pencils sharp’…I was never sure what he meant by that. I can tell you this- Bud the logger wouldn’t take any prizes for dancing! He would hoist the women up off their feet and haul them around the dance floor like a stick of pulpwood! Oysters have a more genteel word that describes them best- Peacemakers.

Bon Secour Bay is in part a state refuge area, it is a small peaceful town of less than 1000 people, Meme’s of Bon Secour- was destroyed by Hurricane Fredrick in 1979 and was never rebuilt- Alabama Wild Shrimp is a point of pride for the bay area. Bon Secour was originally a French fishing village and it’s name means safe harbor. And isn’t that what we want for our homes? To be a refuge from the storms of life and the one safe place we can count on? Blessed are the peacemakers, the backdrop for all of the colors life brings.

Several years ago, we began renovating…I had always used color– navy, leaf green even peach with blue ribbons or periwinkle blue for girlish bedrooms-always with white trim. I had become weary of so much color, I have after all, led a pretty colorful life filled with colorful people. Colorful is a southern term for…well, a nice way of talking about folks and events that are full of personality and generous with memorable stories. Native Neutral interiors are fabulous hosts for colorful folks!  When the renovation began- for inspiration I turned to our roots-

  • Black cast iron skillets, old kitchen utensils, the Ironworks and Steel Works of Birmingham, white square columns
  • The faded barn board of my husband’s rural farm background, the Coalminers, the Wiregrass region, the rich Black Belt soil, the pale rock of the Appalachians
  • The French linen my grandmother loved, the pearl necklaces, the statuary
  • The marble quarries, the  cotton fields, the Spanish moss draped over live oaks
  • Pale heirloom silver, burlap bags of oysters, baskets and straw rugs, an old map of our county
  • Alabama’s white sugar sand beaches and more shades of white- pearl and oyster.

All serene, peaceful-Native Neutral colors. Camellia’s Cottage is not grand,  renovated and peaceful – she cannot compare with the beautiful Hotel St. Francis in Santa Fe…yet neutrals have a found a home here just as they have in the oyster’s shell.


Big Walter is the most peaceful being I know- that sweet feline has even gone along with my Native Neutral interior design scheme! There are no oyster shell soap dishes or a single crusty shell for my ring when I wash dishes- but I’m thinking about it…

‘Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God!‘ Matthew 5:9

Love y’all, Camellia

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Images are all mine- except for the glorious sunset which was shared by Jeremy Miniard. The images of oysters- on the right- with the oyster knife is from Mobile Magazine and the other two are from The images of Bon Secour Bay and Meme’s are from AOL images